PGT TGT NET English Literature Notes on John Keats and PDFs.
- Keats’ father was the manager of the livery stables of his father-in-law in Moorfields, and died when he was 8.
- His mother Frances Jennings remarried but was soon separated from her second husband, and died of TB when he was 14 John was the oldest of the family – had two brothers George and Tom and a sister Fanny, who were deeply devoted to one another.While at Clark’s School at Enfield, he was interested in cricket and boxing, began to read voraciously, especially Greek mythology, and began to translate Aeneid.
- Soon, he was apprenticed to Dr Hammond, a local surgeon
Early Encounter with Literature
- Cowden Clarke, his friend from Clark’s School, encouraged his interest in literature, and his reading of Faerie Queene motivated him to write his first poem, “Lines in Imitation of Spenser” (1814).
- Having quarrelled with Hammond in 1814, he resumed his surgical studies at Guy’s Hospital.
- In the same year, he wrote some minor odes.
- In 1814, he also started to read Wordsworth, with whom, like the other younger Romantics, he developed a love-hate relationship.
- Leigh Hunt, the founder of the liberal journal The Examiner, took Keats under his wing, and published Keats’s sonnet “O Solitude”.
- In Leigh Hunt’s circle, he met the poet and playwright John Hamilton Reynolds, painter Benjamin Haydon and PB Shelley.With Shelley he maintained a cautious distance, because the older poet had a domineering personality.
- In the “Young Poets” issue of The Examiner in November 1816, Hunt hailed Keats, Shelley and Reynolds as the most promising writers of their generation
- The sonnet “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer” is printed.
- Wrote “I Stood Tiptoe Upon a Little Hill” and “Sleep and Poetry”.
- The first volume of poetry, Poems, was published in 1817.
- In a review that appeared in Blackwood’s Magazine, Keats, Hunt and Hazlitt were ridiculed as the “Cockney School”.
Letters & Endymion
- In 1817, Keats travelled a great deal from London to the seaside along with his brother Tom.During this time he wrote letters to his siblings and friends.These letters were the vehicles of Keats’s thoughts on poetry, love and philosophy, and were published posthumously.
- In 1818 his first long poem Endymion published.Written in Heroic couplets; dedicated to Thomas Chatterton.
- Supposedly undertaken in friendly rivalry with Shelley, who at this time was writing Laon and Cythna (later called The Revolt of Islam)
A flowery, elaborate allegory of the myth of Endymion kissed by moon goddess Cynthia (Selene in mythology) on Mount Latmos
- First line: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”
Isabella, or the Pot of Basil (1818)
- Narrative poem in ottava rima, which Keats later disliked.Story adapted from Boccaccio’s Decameron .
- Medieval theme like “The Eve of St. Agnes”.
Isabella falls in love with Lorenzo, employee of her brother . Her brothers learn of this, murder Lorenzo and bury him in the forest
Isabella finds the grave, digs up the body, cuts off Lorenzo’s head and places it in a pot which she plants with basil and waters with her tears. As the girl wastes away, the suspicious brothers steal the pot and discovers the head.
- Having lost Lorenzo and her of basil, Isabella loses her reason and dies.
- Inspired the Pre-Raphaelites
Annus Mirabilis: 1819
- In 1818, Keats was attracted to Isabella Jones, and by 1819, Keats had fallen deeply and jealously in love with Fanny Brawne whom he didn’t marry because of lack of financial means and the onset of his illness.This year, he showed astonishing poetic development and productivity.
- He worked on Hyperion, but gave it up for having too many Miltonic overtones; so it remains incomplete.
- Wrote “The Eve of St Agnes” and several of the reflective odes
“On Indolence”, “On a Grecian Urn”, “To Psyche”, “To Nightingale”, “To Melancholy”, “To Autumn”
La Belle Dame Sans Merci, a lyrical ballad.
- Sonnets: “Fame” and “Why Did I Laugh Tonight”
1819: 2nd half
In 1819, his most productive year, Keats was unhappy in love and had financial difficulties. At this time he also wrote:
1. Tragedy Otho the Great (written with Charles Brown)
2 . Lamia
3. The Fall of Hyperion.
In early 1820, he was seriously ill with tuberculosis and couldn’t write.He was nursed by the Hunts and by Fanny and her mother.In a last desperate attempt to regain his health, Keats travelled to Rome with his friend and painter Joseph Severn. He died in Rome in February 1821.
“The Eve of St. Agnes”
- Narrative poem in Spenserian stanzas.Composed when he was under the double emotional charge of the recent death of his brother Tom and the first flush of his love affair with his Hampstead neighbor Fanny Brawne .
- Based on the superstition that a girl could see her future husband in a dream if she performed certain rites on the eve of St. Agnes.
- Characters: Porphyro and Madeline
Two Greek Epics
- Hyperion Based on mythical Titanomachia (In Greek mythology, Titan gods were defeated by the Olympians).
- Unfinished epic of the primeval struggle between older gods: Saturn, Hyperion, etc. and younger divinities: Apollo, etc.
- Model, Paradise Lost(Blank verse).
- The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream
“A Vision” alternate subtitle.
- Unfinished epic.
- Influence of Virgil, Dante, Milton
- Written 1819, along with Great Odes & La Belle Dame Sans Merci.Tale of an enchantress taken from Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy .
- Influenced Poe’s sonnet “To Science”.
- La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Title derived from a medieval French poem on courtly love (of the same title) written by Alain Chartier.
- A knight is enamored by a beautiful “lady” who appears partly as a witch and partly as a fairy.
- Inspired the Pre-Raphaelites
John Keats Poem analysis